Basketball: Sheffield throw it all away

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The Independent Online
Sheffield's 6ft 6in England international, Roger Huggins, shouldered the blame after his team conceded five points in the final 60 seconds to lose the League Trophy Final 74-69 to the holders, Thames Valley Tigers, at Birmigham's NEC on Friday.

There were still 45 seconds left to play, with Tigers leading 70-69, when Huggins took what coaches call a "bad shot", falling away under extreme pressure when there was time to set up a good shot from an organised offense.

"I tried to do too much," Huggins said. "I took too much on myself to try to save the game at the end. I'm disappointed in myself."

But it had been the near non-performance of the Americans Todd Cauthorn and Chris Finch, at least as scorers, which had put their team-mates, Huggins and Garnet Gayle, under so much pressure throughout the game.

After being blocked by Tony Holley in the early minutes, Caulthorn failed to score until well into the second half. With barely a minute to play he fell for the sucker punch, like others before him, of being drawn into a fracas with Michael Hayles over aloose ball.

Both were penalised, but, whereas it was only a second foul for Hayles, it was the fourth for Cauthorn. Still rattled, seconds later Cauthorn hacked Peter Scantlebury under the Sheffield basket and the final's most consistent and outstanding performer scored the free throw which set Tigers on the way to their third successive trophy title.

Back on Budweiser League duty on Saturday night, Tigers won 113-85 at Sunderland to keep the pressure on the leaders Sheffield, who had come so close to a trophy in their first season.